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Virgin Media eases off bandwidth throttling

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Fewer Virgin Media subscribers will fall foul of the cable company's bandwidth-throttling policies for shorter periods when they are rejigged in the new year.

High speed internet is at the centre of new boss Neil Berkett's plan to turn around VM.

From "early 2008" the top three per cent of uploaders and the top three per cent downloaders will be throttled between 4pm and 9pm. Restrictions are currently imposed between 4pm and midnight on a pool of the top five per cent in both directions.

Once the throttle is applied, it'll stay in place for five hours. The present regime allows for two separate slowdown periods of four hours each.

VM says it expects to throttle fewer connections overall as a result of the changes.

Users on the cheapest "M" package will be throttled from 2Mbit/s to 1Mbit/s downstream if they download 300MB between 4pm and 9pm. The current download threshold is 350MB. The upload threshold will kick in at 150MB and restrict speed to 128Kbit/s.

The middleweight "L" package will be slowed down from 4Mbit/s to 1Mbit/s downstream if they download 800MB before 4pm and 9pm. Their threshold is set to rise slightly from the current 750MB. Uploads will be throttled to 128Kbit/s once 325MB has gone up the line. "L" punters seem to have faired worst in the update - they're currently only throttled to 2MBit/s downstream.

Between 4pm and 9pm, the top of the range, £37 per month "XL" package will be reined in from a theoretical 20Mbit/s maximum to 5Mbit/s once 3GB has been downloaded - no change from the current threshold. Uploads will top out at 192Kbit/s once 1250MB flows in the other direction.

Doubtless the new limits will not satisfy the heaviest VM users, but if it wants to be known for "premium" broadband, it's certainly a step in the right direction and should give other ISPs pause for thought. Whether "fair use policies" like this are actually fair is a different debate.

The updated policy is here. ®

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